by Dennis Dalman
The story of a mentally challenged man named Charlie Gordon will be presented by Sartell High School students in their fall play, Flowers for Algernon.
The production will be performed at the high school at 7 p.m. on both Thursday, Oct. 8 and Friday, Oct. 9; as well as a 2 p.m. matinee performance Saturday, Oct. 10. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
Directed by English and theater instructor John Ronyak, the drama’s main leads are played by Nick Hill as Charlie and Tierra Pilles as Alice Kinnian, Charlie’s teacher.
Flowers for Algernon is a novel written by John Keyes and published to great acclaim in 1966. It was made into a movie in 1968, called Charly, for which its leading actor, Cliff Robertson, won a Best Actor Oscar.
The story is about a janitor with a very low I.Q. who yearns to read and write, without success. A female doctor offers him a chance to undergo a medical experiment that might increase his intelligence, as the experiment did for a lab mouse named Algernon. The experiment works; Charlie’s I.Q. triples and he becomes a genuine genius. Then, Charlie falls in love with his teacher, a woman named Alice, but all of Charlie’s future happiness is jeopardized when complications set in.
Flowers for Algernon is a novel-reading assignment for Sartell eighth-graders in English classes, and a special performance of the play will be given just for them.
Ronyak, who teachers English in grades 9-12, said roles for the play were cast last May, and rehearsals for the play began in August. Ronyak also teaches an introduction-to-theater class and an acting class.
The stage set is modular, with two basic platforms – one for Charlie’s bedroom, the other a doctor’s office. Then there is a series of maze pieces at the forefront in which much of the action takes place.
The play includes the following cast members, in order of appearance: Nicole Yang (Dr. Strauss), Colin Nord (Professor Nemur), Pilles (Alice Kinniean), Marc Orjansen (Burt Seldon), Hill (Charlie Gordon), Jenna Yang (Connie/Doris); Mckenzie Hanson (Bernice/Nurse), Reece Decker (Frank), Rebekah Kucala (Gina), Lidiah Zipp (Mrs. Donner), Alex Metteer (Joe), Jordan Dockery (Mother), Spencer Gillian (Little Charlie), James Gaffy (Father), Caroline Groebele (Child Norma), Autumn Fosteson (Mrs. Feldman), Caity Elwell (Ellen), Riley Dalby (Teenager Charlie), Tyler Kadlec (Chairman), Megan Mechelke (Mrs. Mooney), Anna Lehto (Mrs. Nemur), Jack Hackenmueller (Mr. Harvey), Erika Stambaugh (Jackie Welberg), Katherine Ronyak (Anne Welberg) and Laura Carlson (Adult Norma).
The technical director is Tracey Watkins. Bailey Mumm and Mickey Czech are stage managers. Hannah Bous is publicity manager.
The crew is comprised of Kaleb Fisher, Ali Wicklund, Jake Hughes, Noah Trembly, Justin Miller, Matt Johnson-Ebert and Sami Somdalen.